Jim O’Connor, managing director and global head of venture capital at William Blair & Co., is a private equity investor and chairman of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, parent of tech incubator 1871.
In August 2017, the hub announced that O’Connor plans to step down as chairman at the end of 2018; he has had that post since the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center was founded more than 15 years ago. He plans to continue serving on the board.
At the same time, 1871 announced that CEO Howard Tullman would be departing at the end of 2017.
“When Howard took over the reins, we thought he might be able to squeeze in at most 2/3 years and it has been our honor to have him serve so long and so well as our CEO,” O’Connor wrote in a memo announcing the news.
At a 2014 celebration of companies that got their start at 1871, O’Connor praised local business leaders for supporting the organization.
“It took a huge dose of Chicago-ness — the special DNA of our city that leads to successful CEOs of our city who give back to the community by donating their time for free,” he said. “Successful entrepreneurs who provide thousands of office hours for free. That no-frills, roll-up-your-sleeves attitude to get it done. It means putting humility ahead of ego.”
O’Connor served as interim CEO of 1871 after Kevin Willer left for a venture capital firm. O’Connor co-founded Motorola Solutions’ strategic investment arm. He was also a management consultant at A.T. Kearney and worked at the U.S. Department of Treasury as a White House Fellow.
He sits on several boards including the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the Chicago Urban League, the Big Shoulders Fund for the Archdiocese of Chicago’s inner-city school fund and serves as a trustee on the Board of the Field Museum of Natural History.
O’Connor earned a bachelor’s degree and a JD from Georgetown University and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.